Rockettes’ Pick for Dancer of the Week: Debbie Reynolds

Who: Debbie Reynolds

Her dance:

Why we chose her: Since Debbie Reynolds’ passing, the Internet has been flooding with clips of the icon’s talent, so it was only natural for us to make Debbie our dancer of the week. Choosing a number from her first leading role in Hollywood, “Good Morning” from the 1952 musical film Singin’ in the Rain, this musical film was a challenge as she had no prior dance experience, and was sharing the stage with two iconic dance veterans, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.

In 2010, Debbie talked to the American Film Institute about Fred Astaire, and how he encouraged her to keep working hard on the dance routines in Singin’ in the Rain. On one occasion, she broke down in tears and hid under the piano, exhausted and sore. But thanks to Fred, he brought her to his studio where she saw how much work truly went into perfecting a performance.

With true dancer dedication, Debbie didn’t just learn the choreography, she made it look effortless—her charisma and charm shining through for the entire 3-minute sequence. And that is what we, as dancers, admire most about this American icon. She conquered the classic dancer challenge: Mastering the seemingly impossible, when your mind is swimming with choreography and your feet are sore and your muscles ache—and making the work look fun. Because, for a dancer, it is.

Fun fact: When she landed the role in Singing’ in the Rain, Debbie had six months to learn and perfect the choreography. “I had to learn all of that [choreography] in six months, and I had never danced before,” Debbie told NPR in 2013. “I had to keep up with the boys.”

Rockette kicks (on a scale of 10 to 10!): Apple's Woman With Bunny EarsApple's Woman With Bunny EarsApple's Woman With Bunny EarsApple's Woman With Bunny EarsApple's Woman With Bunny Ears